Lesson 17: Do Not Give Statements

From The Sue the Bastards section of How You Can Avoid Legal Land Mines by Joseph S. Lyles (2003).

A common mistake people make is giving a record or written statement to an insurance adjuster or law enforcement officer. Both types of statement-takers are only concerned about their own interests. In other words, they are trying to further the goals of their employers, not to help you, no matter how nice they act.

I’ve had clients over the years who agreed to give statements before they were represented. For example, in a personal injury case, a client might say something such as, “it was just an accident,” without realizing this statement could destroy the possibility of recovering damages for negligence. You must remember that words often have different meanings in the law than they do in everyday conversation.

No matter how sincere your explanation for a situation may be, you may find that you are nonetheless guilty of violating some law. Whenever you are asked to give a statement that has potential legal consequences, you should decline until you fully understand what kind of trouble you could get in.

The Lesson: Never agree to give a statement without first consulting an attorney.